Nature Valley Grand Prix Stage 2: Downtown St. Paul Criterium

16 Jun

After the time trial, we headed back to the hotel.  The time trial started at 8:30am, and we were done and out of there by 10:00am.  That left a lot of time to kill before our 6:15pm criterium start.  So, what exactly did I do?  Good question.  I spent a lot of time laying in bed, recovering and relaxing.  Hours were wasted away on the interwebs, yet I didn’t make time to blog until today (Thursday).  Anyway, it stopped raining shortly after the time trial finished.  The sun came out and it got warm.  As we left for the crit, a wall of black clouds could be seen to the West.  Uh oh.  The rain came about an hour before the start.  It wasn’t nearly as severe of a storm as it looked.  Just wind and rain.  There was a Taylor Swift concert going on at the same time right on the course.  Lots of people joked about skipping the crit and going to the concert in our kits instead.  I don’t think anyone followed through with it though…

The Course: It was a 5-cornered course.  There was one section with bricks.  Most of the course was pretty chewed up and there were lots of pot holes.  Add 100+ girls and some rain, and it’s a recipe for disaster.  Our race was 28 laps, with time bonuses on lap 5 and 15, sprint bonuses on a few other laps.

The Race:  Our game plan was to stay safe, be aggressive, get time bonuses, and win.  Sounds like every other teams plan.  The race to the start line began 30minutes to the start.  I was off the back and started at the back of the field.  It took me 4 laps to find the front.  Just in time for the time bonus sprint.  Chloe took first, and I was third.  This is when things started to get aggressive.  We were attacking left and right.  Finally, a break got off.  I was in the break with 5 others (Shelley Olds, Lauren Tamayo, Theresa Cliff-Ryan, Joelle Numainville, and Leah Kirchmann).  From the beginning, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sprint against these ladies.  I was the highest placed G.C. rider, so I wanted it to stick.  There were really only about 3 of us in the break that were working.  Shelley was drilling it just as hard as I was and the Colavita girls would take turns working a bit.  We stayed away for around 10 laps and the 2nd time bonus sprint at lap 15.  4 of us sprinted for it, with me taking 3rd (I think).  It was a pretty intense sprint, as we all threw our bikes for the line.  With not everyone pulling their weight in the break, we were eventually reeled in.  Kristin Armstrong and PB & Co. brought it back.  More attacking went on, but nothing stuck.  The next objective was to keep it safe in the finish and not let any gaps open up in front of Amber and Evie.

The Team: Chloe followed wheels and finished 3rd in an impressive sprint against current world champion, Giorgia Bronzini and Shelley Olds.  I finished 10th with Evie on my wheel for 11th.  Evie rode like a rockstar in the wet criterium.  Very impressive.  Out of all the crashes that happened, we all managed to stay out of them.  It was a very successful day for us.  Evie and Amber held on to their G.C. positions, as I moved up to 17th with the time bonuses.

Today is a 66mile road race in Cannon Falls.  We are hoping for some sun, but it seems to be a bit iffy.  Stay tuned!

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